Education, Michigan Republicans — June 6, 2015 at 8:20 am

Michigan Rep. reveals GOP agenda: “I believe in publicly-funded education, not necessarily publicly-delivered”


It’s not often that Republican speak the truth about their overarching agenda. They more often cloak it in palatable language that makes it more appealing and disguises their heartlessness and their true goals. But every once in awhile one of their members gives us a glimpse of what their real agenda is. Mitt Romney did it when he made his “47 percent” and “binders full of women” remarks, for example.

That happened in Michigan this week when Republican House member Tim Kelly of Saginaw Township made this rather stunning comment:

I believe in publicly-funded education, not necessarily publicly-delivered.

The remark was made in the context of his outrageous proposal to simply eliminate the Detroit Public School system because, according to him, “They’ve had their opportunity and…they’ve squandered that opportunity.” That proposal, particularly coming from the chairman of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee, is shocking enough. But it was his statement about publicly-funded education that’s not publicly-delivered that reveals the real agenda of the Republicans in Michigan and elsewhere across the country: to use tax dollars to enrich private education corporations.

That is, simply put, what Kelly is proposing. He wants to install a direct pipeline between the state coffers containing our tax dollars and the bank accounts of for-profit charters and other corporate education interests.

The fact that for-profit education is no more effective – often LESS effective – than public education is irrelevant to this conversation. Actually, educational outcomes play a secondary or even tertiary role. Enriching private corporations and destroying teachers unions are the main drivers for the Republican education agenda.

It’s just not every day that one of them admits it where people can hear.

[Photo credit: Anne Savage, special to Eclectablog]

  • bryan

    He is certainly speaking the truth, about education in this case, but about the larger attitude towards “public services” and “government”. The history of this legislature/governor since 2011 is all about funnelliing the money from the people (by tax mandate) to private companies and private hands. How much money did the government pay to Jones Day and Kevyn Orr so they could play government in Detroit? How much has gone to Aramark?

    The assertion that they have to “run like a business” is belied by the creation of captive markets that consumers can’t influence and by continuing (even increasing) payments in the face of incompetence (Aramark, charter schools). Real businesses with those kinds of track records are quickly shuttered … unless there’s a political group in power to keep feeding them.

  • Jeff Salisbury

    Tim Kelly is a school board trustee of the Saginaw Area Catholic Schools. He is employed by the schools as an athletic coach. His children attend (or attended) its schools. He came to Michigan from Indiana many years ago to work as a public education policy consultant (with no experience or skills to do so) for then-Gov. John Engler. He is the chair of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee.

  • judyms9

    The agenda has always been pretty clear. They’ve demonized all our institutions (Look out, libraries. You are in the cross hairs.) and all our public servants. They’ve squeezed as much money out of the economy as they can and stacked it up on distant islands rather than reinvesting it and where it’s untaxed. With wages low and spent mostly on basic needs, the only money left to grab sits in government treasuries and the Social Security Trust Fund–which they always borrow from when they need cash fast, as in Iraq invasions and the like. The Bushes saw a chance to put Social Security in jeopardy while waging an unnecessary war.
    The private sector has a high business failure rate; THEIR systems get hacked; their airbags malfunction; their managers get indicted; their Blackwaters tar our national image; they contaminate our food, their operations spill oil all over the Gulf, along the Pacific coastline and into the Kalamazoo River. But we are urged to focus on the weaknesses of government and public institutions, right? It’s battered spouse syndrome writ large in a nation that needs partnership between the two.
    As long as humans are manning the oars in all our endeavors we will have errors, malfunctions, snafus, and all the other glitches we’ve made up words for, whether in the public or private sector. But if your goal is to cement in a caste/class system in a nation that once believed in democracy and opportunity, go ahead and keep wrecking our commons, our shared efforts, our institutions, rather than improving them and we will be easy, easy prey for our enemies, and that’s if our national self-cannibalizing doesn’t take us down first.

  • SSSS Fiend

    He is talking about voucher systems, and voucher systems is a question
    of equiality. We liberals, who are for equality and equal chances, and
    want all kids to have the opportunity to go to a good school, we support
    voucher systems. Socialists, who believe equality is about punishing
    the rich, they don’t want it. True conservatives, who belive that the
    poor should stay in their place, they want the poor to stay in shitty
    public schools.

    • obadiahorthodox

      Excuse me? I was brought up in the public school system and the education was top notch. The trouble began when the Rethuglicans got control of our Government and started dismantling all publicly funded social programs then blaming Government for being ineffective, and saying that Private corporations could do a better job with out Government regulations. By the way, you are NOT a true liberal, if you were you would not support the voucher system.

      • SSSS Fiend

        What you say simply does not fit with reality. Sure, some public schools are really good, but the ones in the poor areas are definitely not, and this has been the case completely independently of who is in charge, so blaming it on the republicans is just closing your eyes for the real problems.

        Voucher systems were invented by liberals, and have been put in place by liberals in for example Sweden, so your desire to paint everything black and white is just blind dogma. Open your eyes. Politics is not like a sport where you pick a team and then defend whatever that team does.

        • David Edwards

          The voucher system in Sweden was inspired by Republican economist Milton Friedman, and applying free-market principles to education has been a disaster there. Test scores have dropped for the last 10 years and liberal parties like the Greens have apologized for promoting it. That’s the lesson the U.S. needs to learn: voucher systems fail students. And Sweden is all the proof you need.

          • SSSS Fiend

            tl;dr Voucher systems in Sweden has worked well, and is not to blame for the last years bad results in public schools.

            1. The Greens are not liberal in Sweden and they did not promote it in the start, however, they have stopped trying to dismantle it because it works well. They have most definitely not apologized for anything, they don’t have the brains for that. The current minister of education is from the green party, for that matter. They are not trying to or planning to revert the voucher system.

            2. Test scores have dropped the last ten years, however, the voucher system has been in place for 25 years, so blaming it is hardly doable. Especially since it’s the municipal schools that are dropping.

            3. In fact the voucher system saved the Swedish schools. In the late 80’s you were placed in a school by the municipality, you had no choice where to go. Schools in poor areas were violent, teachers got beat up and kids who actually wanted to learn had no chance. Working class parents had no possibility of getting a good education for their kid. And I mean that literally: No possibility. They only way you could get good education was to move to an area that had a good school, which usually involved buying an expensive house, so they could not afford it.

            Just 5 years after the voucher systems introduction, those problems were gone. The problem schools either had fixed their problems, or in one case closed, because of a lack of students that wanted to go there. Working class parents could now put their kids in schools that were better, although slightly more far away.

            And this is what I’m saying: Vouchers are an equality issue. It’s the only way kids from poor areas with bad, violent schools have a chance.

            In short, everything you heard about the Swedish voucher system is wrong, It was a success. Not without it’s problems, mainly Sweden still lacks a good way to rate schools, which is really strange, but it has been a success.

            4. Sweden’s international rating is falling mainly because the public schools are getting orders on how to run the education that they don’t understand, or misinterpret. For example the ministry of education has decided that students should have a greater say in what the study, and this has led schools to basically let the kids study what they want, and most importantly *if* they want. There are even such weird concept as teacher-free classes now. The private schools generally ignore that nonsense, and as a result they are also fairing much better in tests like the PISA test.

            5. Friedman (who was a liberal economist) was indeed one of the persons promoting voucher systems. He was right about a lot of things, Friedman. I know he has become a bogeyman for socialists, but I think that is a bad idea to ignore him. It’s not WHO says something, it’s WHAT he says.

  • sanityismine

    So money follows the families choice for the education their child, sort of how it works for colleges, terrible idea.

    • SSSS Fiend

      I can’t tell if you are sarcastic or not.

  • profjh97

    Vouchers work very well for families that have the financial means to come up with the additional money needed for the rest of the tuition and assorted fees. What vouchers actually would accomplish is ensure the complete collapse of public education in our fair state. The public schools would be reserved for those at the bottom rung of societies ladder.

    • SSSS Fiend

      The whole point of a voucher system is that is should pay for the education, ie, there should not need to be additional money for tuition. If this is not the case, then the implementation of the system is wrong and needs to be fixed.

      “The public schools would be reserved for those at the bottom rung of societies ladder.”

      That’s how it is *without* voucher systems. The top goes to private schools, the bottom goes to public schools.

      • AL Heath

        Schools of choice and vouchers are bad ideas. We should incentivize the residents to support the schools in their districts. Most families must send their children to the local public school. If some are allowed to bail out of these schools and take their money with them it eventually destroys the more challenged school.
        As for how it is without vouchers, go to your private school. Leave your money at home!

        • SSSS Fiend

          In a voucher system, yes, we are allowed to take our money to another school. It is true that if we have a bad school, the kids will leave that school for a good school, and that will mean that the school closes down.

          So with a voucher system, bad schools either have to become good, or close.

          If we had a hospital that made people sick, would we demand that MORE people go to that hospital to support it? If we had a restaurant that had bad service, would we demand that MORE people go to it so it can become better? If we had a car repair shop that smashed the cars up, would we demand that more people repair their cars there?

          No, of course not. We would go to another hospital. We would go to another restaurant, we would go to another car shop. And we would tell everyone of our bad experience.

          Why are schools different? What makes a school so special that we have to support it no matter what?

          Education is neither a sport, nor a religion. I see no reason to continue to support a school that destroys your kids. I most definitely would NEVER let my child go to the typical US inner city school. But *I* have a choice. They don’t.

          *Why do we continue to deny them that choice?*